Hi and welcome to #BiteSizeSaturday!
Today, I’d love to tell you all about three coffee table books from my favourite non-fiction publisher, Amber Books, who already taught me everything I needed to know about cats, dogs, horses, Norway, Japan, the wild and various hidden places around the globe.
Having loved the previous geographical coffee table books by Claudia Martin, I just had to read Endangered Places.
I had expected this book to be all about endangered natural places, so I was somewhat surprised to find quite a lot of man-made places and buildings in this book. I guess I never realised those could be endangered too? I will always enjoy photos and facts about nature more than photos and facts about buildings, so I did enjoy Endangered Places a little less than I thought I would, but that’s just me.
In any case, there are stunning photos of both to find in this book, as well as an eye-opening amount of elements that cause places to become endangered, most of which can be lumped together as: mankind’s short-sightedness, sad but true. Excessive tourism, overexploitation, developments, man-made structures like dams, poaching, vandalism and climate change (Mount Kilimanjaro has lost about 85% of its glaciers in a century!), they all have a hand in endangering more than a few places around the world.
Two of my favourite photos in this book are Venice at sunset and an absolutely stunning image of a ship against the backdrop of the Grey Glacier in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in Chile.
I jumped at the chance to learn more about Africa through Africa: From the Nile Delta to Table Mountain by Anne-Marie Bissada. This is another fantastic book that combines nature photos, with photos of people and their traditions, as well as cities and monuments and other man-made structures and it really paints a rather extensive picture of a vaste and impressive continent. Photos of the sphinx and pyramids in Giza stand in stark contrast with peaceful cobblestone streets of Gorée in Senegal. The panorama of the Nile as seen from the Cairo Tower in Egypt is breath-taking, as are the Sindou Peaks in Burkina Faso, the Bandiagara Cliff in Mali, Lake Nyasa at sunset and the Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Benin has its own “Venice” with houses on stilts and boats as the only form of transportation, Cape Cross in Namibia is home to one of the largest colonies of cape fur seals in the world and DR Congo has an active volcano named Mount Nyiragongo. My favourite photos are wildebeest crossing a river in Kenya, a very powerful image, flamingos and hippos chilling in a Kenyan lake, very peaceful, a stunning photo of Mount Kilimanjaro above the clouds at sunset and Lake Kariba at sunset.
I would highly recommend Africa to any and all (armchair) travellers.
Out of these three, Strange Animals by Tom Jackson was my absolute favourite. Strange Animals takes its readers all over the world, showing us some very unique and uniquely strange creatures, in terms of looks and/or behaviour.
Did you know that the tarsier is a primate species in Asia whose eyeballs are bigger than its brain? Incidentally, I love tarsiers but I never realised they’re primates, and I think their Dutch name is just brilliant: spookdiertje, which translates as little ghost animal.
The Saiga’s weird nose, the leaping mudskipper, the African lungfish that absorbes oxygen in a lung and creates a waterproof bag of skin and mucus to survive dry spells, the Nano chameleon that is only 22 mm (0.9 in) long (tail included), the naked mole-rat and the wētā (which are the stuff of nightmares), the way marsupials are born and borne, the peacock spider (even I have to admit this is one very impressive little guy – on paper, I don’t need to see it in real life, thank you), the star-nosed mole (for a second there, I thought something was wrong with the photo, my brain could not compute), the red-lipped batfish and the Dumbo octopus and the leafy seadragon, … Seriously, the list is endless, and so is my love for this stunning book. I would very highly recommend it to anyone who loves to learn about and look at (quirky) animals.
Thanks for joining me today! Endangered Places, Africa and Strange Animals are out on 14 May in hardcover.
Massive thanks to Amber Books and NetGalley for the eARCs. All opinions are my own.